The Istrian peninsula in Croatia is soothing to the soul. Its beach towns pull you in and the hilltop villages make you linger. Life is slow and good and you can hear yourself breathe. But there is one place in Istria that sits in contrast to the rest of the rustic calm this part of Croatia excretes… the east coastal town of Opatija, Croatia.
Opatija is for big boys and girls. Nobody in this glamorous place says ‘ah, I think I’ll go without make up today‘, or ties their hair in a ponytail or forgets to put on their aftershave!
Opatija thinks carefully about style and fine culture and has long drawn the kind of holiday-makers who prefer to arrive by private yacht than share a charter flight with others. It was once the holiday equivalent of St Tropez for Russian Oligarchs and old Austro-Hungarian money and beautifully there is still a classy trail of wealth and opulence in this traditional seaside resort. It’s easy to see why Opatija attracted Royalty.
Opatija Croatia sits on the Kvarner Gulf, has a Mediterranean climate and views of paradise islands. It has managed to remain a bit of a secret from Western Europeans for decades, who have instead been distracted by the glitz and glam of the French Riviera. But don’t be mistaken, Croatia’s Opatija is no less opulent or grand. In fact, Opatija far outranks in terms of architecture and beauty – over-tourism never forced this town to build monstrous dwellings to keep up with the hordes of visitors.
Opatija for the weekend is always a good idea! With cheap flights to both Pula and Rijeka, why not settle down in this glamorous town for a few days. You’ll love the Opatija hotel Palace Bellevue Liburnia – it’s so beautiful! You will definitely feel like royalty staying here and if at all possible go for the sea view room because, well, waking up to these views is heavenly.
For the best deals at Palace Bellevue, click here.
Or make it a base for a week’s holiday and take advantage of the local Opatija beaches. There are loads of worthwhile day trips you can make from Opatija – you could visit the island of Krk, make a day trip to the ancient romantic city of Rovinj, or our favourite Istrian harbour town, Fazana.
Stay at the beautiful, yet very reasonable, beachfront Grand Hotel Adriatic and take advantage of their breakfast and dinner package for a really relaxed holiday in Opatija.
For the best deals at Grand Hotel Adriatic, click here.
Opatija, Croatia – Things To Do…
It may seem at first glance that a list of ‘things to do in Opatija’ could be inscribed with a crayon on the side of a frozen chip. However, this beautiful old-style seaside town is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. When you visit Opatija you can just sense the nostalgic magnetism this town has prospered from for decades, and before you know it you’ll be entranced too. It’s charming, charismatic and classy and there is plenty to see and do here…
Walk The Opatija Strand – Lugomare
We love a circular stroll and Opatija throws out a great one!
The Lungomare, or the Franz-Josef promenade, has to be one of the prettiest walks you could do in Istria, let alone Opatija. The cobbled seaside Opatija strand weaves in and out of gorgeous little bays with the sea on one side and beautiful Belle Époque style villas on the other.
Fishing boats bob up and down, tanned holidaymakers bathe in natural pools cordoned off by posh hotels and cafe dwellers sit with their coffee and their sea view on glamorous terraces under the shade of ancient pines. Every now and then you will pass a sculpture dedicated to someone who the world has never heard of but that invented the atom, or something, and used to live in Opatija. Or even just a girl with a pet seagull. It’s the most romantic of scenes and you could easily fall in love here.
The Walk Of Fame
Part of the Lungomare Promenade is Opatija’s very own walk of fame – marbled stars given to even more locally renowned personalities who you will never have heard of. A nice touch nonetheless, when I consider that absolutely no one became famous from my hometown, Hartlepool, and even if they had, the marble would’ve been ‘transported’ to somebody’s kitchen worktop before the cement had a chance to set. So, good on ya Opatija. And, I did at least recognise one famous name on there – the tennis legend Goran Ivanišević!
Opatija Town Centre
Exploring the charmingly historic town centre and High Street is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Opatija. Admire the grandly built hotels, shops and cafes which line Marsala Tita Avenue.
You must stop at Hotel Wagner which makes the best praline ANYWHERE apparently and you may as well enjoy it with a coffee on their terrace. There are also several other great cafes and restaurants along this stretch which take pride in their seafood dishes and offer you a sea view too.
A smattering of lovely gift shops and designer boutique-style establishments in the town offer you the chance for a bit of shopping if paying €200 for a T-shirt is your thing. But ultimately, just enjoy rubbing shoulders with folk who smell divine and know the secret to eternal youth – I still believe style and sophistication can be achieved by osmosis (and plastic surgery).
Take Shelter In One of Opatija’s Parks
If retail therapy leaves you feeling shallow and vacuous, take a shot at rectifying your empty soul with a detour from the main road through one of Opatija’s famous green spaces. You have a choice – Park Angiolina or St James Park, one with a bandstand, the other a fountain. But both are a chance to escape the sun under the shade of the great Pines and Cypress trees. Find a park bench and slow down your scented bit of respite with views through to the ocean.
Villa Angiolina backs onto the Park Angiolina and is an Opatija museum that does a fine job of documenting the history and heritage of this wonderful town.
Eat And Drink In Opatija
We’ve already mentioned the delectable truffles that Opatija is famous for, but this stylish little Adriatic seaside town offers up more than pretty little sweet treats.
First off, one of the best things about Opatija in our opinion is that the beach bars and terraces attached to the posh hotels aren’t usually exclusive to guests. Anybody can rock up and enjoy a cocktail or coffee from their veranda’s, and even from their infinity pools! You could spend a summer just trying them all out, in the name of research of course.
And, seeing as this is Istria, you can expect a high standard of food in all of the restaurants. Fresh fish, pasture-raised meat, truffles of the fungal variety, high-quality ingredients, and incredible wines come as standard – you will definitely eat well in this town. Make sure you try the Kvarna scampi, it’s on every menu.
This might be an article about Opatija but we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t mention nearby Volosko. If you visit Opatija by car then it’s an easy 5 minute drive to this sleepy fishing village up the coast.
Expect a much more relaxed vibe and some excellent casual dining options. Submarine Burger does a great triple mini-burger platter with the prettiest of views and a great Croatian wine list.
That’s it for Opatija, Croatia. We know you’re going to love the place, as we did. For more places to visit in Istria, Croatia check out our other recommendations here.
Pin For Later…